Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – At First Hate by K.A. Linde

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At First Hate; Coastal Chronicles #2 
(A standalone within a series)

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Small Town/New Adult/Enemies-to-Lovers/Second Chance/Contemporary Romance

Author: K.A. Linde

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars



Beautiful, tearful, angsty, ALL THE FEELS!!

At First Hate is a second chance love story that bruised my heart with all the angst…(sobbing)…it was a hard won love that had me in its grips from the very first page until the very end. So good!!

Told only from the POV of Marley Nelson, we weave back in forth from the past to the present and how one man, Derek Ballentine, has affected her life over and over again. This K.A. Linde type of book is what I absolutely love from her. It’s page turning, gut-twisting, and a one of a kind story that I can’t put down once I start. If you read Hold The Forevers, a few characters might seem familiar, along with the writing style that this book is written in.

Derek Ballentine and Marley Nelson first meet in high school and it was certainly a meeting of – she resented him and he just wanted in her skirt. Total teenage hormones. They continue to have a back and forth kind of frenemy zone where Derek doesn’t really know how to take Marley or how to subdue those hormones for years and unfortunately it creates bad decision making, dumb choices, and just plain old youth mistakes that work against them.

Weaving back and forth, through past and present, we get to witness how their relationship changes through time. The mistakes, the love, the loss, everything, but in the end will it be enough to finally push them past all the hate.

How do you ever get over your first love, because at the end of day, this is truly what Derek and Marley are, they just don’t know it for years…..oh, my bruised heart!!

I loved reading this angsty book and I can’t wait to return for more.


A new stand alone enemies-to-lovers romance from USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde…

Derek Ballentine and I have always been on opposite sides of everything.

I went to a public Savannah high school. He went to a private Catholic school. I went to Duke on scholarship. He went to UNC as a legacy. When we both end up at Harvard for graduate school and we’re finally on a level playing field, I think it’s all going to change.

I was wrong.

The only thing that changed was ending up in his bed.

Now my grandma has passed away, and Derek is the attorney helping the people trying to steal her legacy. I’ll do anything to stop that from happening. Even take on my lifetime enemy.

I hate him at first sight…but I also want him at first hate.

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Book Reviews, Contemporary Romance, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – Chasing Serenity by Kristen Ashley

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Chasing Serenity; River Rain #1 
(#1 within a series)

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Contemporary Romance

Author: Kristen Ashley

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars



An intertwining love story that took me through twists and turns, bumps and dips and eventually a HEA.

The beginning of Chasing Serenity is written like an epic fiction novel. Lots of description, fabulous secondary characters, and lots of drama. It isn’t until Judge and Chloe meet and their spicy back and forth banter really takes off that you remember this is a romance novel and the all of the classic drama falls to the background and the steamy chemistry rolls to the forefront.

Chloe Pierce is the pillar of her famous family. She’s used to being there for everyone, but when tragedy strikes her and her foundation begins to crack for the first time in her life she doesn’t have anyone holding her up, that is until she meets Judge Oakley. However, she isn’t sure how she likes meeting someone who could actually be strong enough to hold her up, she isn’t used to having a partner. Pushing people away who get so close is her speciality, but Judge isn’t detoured, he finds Chloe fascinating and wants her more every day.

Judge is fascinating. He runs a non-profit hiking program, but comes from his own famous family. It’s probably why he’s attracted to a woman like Chloe, but also why he’s tried to live a live very different than what his father wants. Judge is a total sweetheart, loyal, and smart. But he also isn’t looking for a woman who isn’t what he is. He’s been with liers, cheats, and complete opposites. The more time he spends with Chloe she is exactly what he’s looking for, but is he what she needs?

These two have more in common than they ever thought and the more time they spend together it becomes more obvious, they just need to open up to one another to allow it to happen.


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Ashley brings a new novel in her River Rain series…

From a very young age, Chloe Pierce was trained to look after the ones she loved.

And she was trained by the best.

But when the man who looked after her was no longer there, Chloe is cast adrift—just as the very foundation of her life crumbled to pieces.

Then she runs into tall, lanky, unpretentious Judge Oakley, her exact opposite. She shops. He hikes. She drinks pink ladies. He drinks beer. She’s a city girl. He’s a mountain guy.

Obviously, this means they have a blowout fight upon meeting. Their second encounter doesn’t go a lot better.

Judge is loving the challenge. Chloe is everything he doesn’t want in a woman, but he can’t stop finding ways to spend time with her. He knows she’s dealing with loss and change.

He just doesn’t know how deep that goes. Or how ingrained it is for Chloe to care for those who have a place in her heart, how hard it will be to trust anyone to look after her…

And how much harder it is when it’s his turn.

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Book Reviews, Bully Romance, Dark Romance, New Adult, Year of Reviews - 2021

Review – The Retaliation You Deliver by Tracy Lorraine

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The Retaliation You Deliver; Maddison Kings University #7 
(#7 within a series)

Publication Date: September 2, 2021

Genre/Tropes: Book Duet/New Adult/Dark/Bully Romance

Author: Tracy Lorraine

Review Rating: 5 Gold Stars



Lorraine delivered the perfect broken hero in this final MKU duet.

Remember how I gave a warning for Luca Dunn…Luca now seems like fuzzy bunny slippers…I’m stamping Leon with the extra deep, dark warning!!

Leon Dunn needs a hug, snuggles, and he needs Macie, but it’s a journey to get there and have him admit it, but what a ride! A deep, dark, delicious ride.

There is a darkness inside Leon Dunn that came from a childhood trauma that no one should suffer. It’s a darkness that Leon has lived with in silence for a decade and it has slowly poisoned him little by little, blotting out the good that lives inside. It’s why Letty has always sensed he was holding a secret and why he slowly lost the brotherly bond to his twin, Luca.

Bit by bit Leon was losing himself and it wasn’t until he found Macie, the girl he’d been searching for for the past ten years, that he finally felt alive. The girl he wanted to punish for what happened, the girl who would lead him to retaliation so he would finally be free. Unfortunately, being with Macie only seemed to confuse Leon and that vengeance he wanted became mutteled.

Macie understood Leon better than anyone. While she didn’t suffer exactly what Leon did, she suffered differently everyday living with her uncle.  Even though she knew better than to trust him, Leon knew exactly how to pick her apart and sneak through her defences falling for the broken boy never realizing just how much they had in common.

Even though Leon had nefarious purposes, Macie had a soft spot for him and what he went through, but can she really trust the boy who only set out to destroy her heart?

The Retaliation You Deliver is a duet and needs to be read in order after The Devastation you Reap. However, to really get the best enjoyment I would also suggest reading the entire MKU series and begin with Letty and Kane’s books. Letty is Leon and Luca’s childhood friend and she is an integral part and has an ear to bend (meaning she has advice and talks some sense into both of her friends), but a lot of Letty’s advice makes sense due to her time spent with Kane. On top of that, Kane’s world, the roommates he lived with, become important to the overall story too. The overall story arc comes together by the end of this book and yet also shows where the future can go with different plot lines.


When something seems too good to be true. It’s usually because it is.

A lesson I learned the hard way.

Every single fear I had about falling for Leon, has just come true in the most brutal way.

The sweet guy act he’s been putting on the past few weeks is over.

The cold, hard truth is… he never wanted me. He only wanted retaliation.

And like a fool, I played right into his wicked scheme.

But I’m not the monster he thinks I am.

Ten years ago, I might have discovered the horrifying truth, but I did the only thing I could. I pushed it down and tried to forget. Tried to survive. Afraid of what might happen at the hands of the monster who ruined both our lives.

But now the truth is out, and the secret Leon has been keeping for a decade is about to poison those he loves, sending him into a darker place than he’s ever been.

Healing isn’t always easy, it’s messy and painful.

The question is, beneath all the hate, will I rediscover the man I fell for, or was he always a fantasy?

Dear Reader,

The Retaliation You Deliver is the conclusion to Macie and Leon’s duet and the final book in the Maddison Kings University. It’s a dark bully romance that contains mature content and demanding alphaholes that some readers may find disturbing. You have been warned.

Must be read in order, start with The Devastation You Reap

The Devastation You Reap (Maddison Kings University, #6)

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Contemporary Romance, LGBTQA+, Release Day/New Release, Year in Releases - 2021, Year of Reviews - 2021

New Release – Dare Me by Brooke Blaine and Ella Frank

Dare Me, the swoon worthy second book in the Dare to Try Trilogy from USA Today bestselling authors Ella Frank and Brooke Blaine is now live!

The moment Bash “Miss Razzle Dazzle” Vogel sashayed into Lieutenant Kieran Bailey’s life, both their worlds were turned upside down.
What started as an easy friendship quickly morphed into sizzling chemistry that neither one could deny.
But what Kieran knows better than anyone is that when a fire burns this hot and heavy, someone’s bound to get burned.
Do they dare to risk being together? Or will the flame of this hot match consume them both?

Dare Me is book two of the Dare to Try trilogy, which must be read in order.

Grab your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
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Start the Dare to Try Trilogy today!
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About Ella Frank
Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite erotic serial, Sex Addict. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction.

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.

Connect with Ella
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About Brooke Blaine
Brooke Blaine is a USA Today Bestselling Author of contemporary romance that ranges from comedy to suspense to erotic. The latter has scarred her conservative Southern family for life, bless their hearts.
If you’d like to get in touch with her, she’s easy to find – just keep an ear out for the Rick Astley ringtone that’s dominated her cell phone for years. Or you can reach her at

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